Anarchy near the UK

Balaskas, Bill [Artist] (2016) Anarchy near the UK. (Mixed media installation). Variable dimensions.


The installation was commissioned by Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) for its group exhibition PUNK: Its traces in contemporary art (May–September 2016) – the largest international exhibition to date about the Punk movement. In his work, Balaskas re-approaches one of the basic strategies of Situationism, which was picked up by Punk: détournement (the subversion of capitalist media tools and methodologies). In the installation, this materialises as a “paper embroidery”, where all the stories on the front page of The Sun have been cut out and replaced by representative objects. This action leaves intact only the newspaper’s dramatic title (a reference to the iconic song of the Sex Pistols), which actually introduces a Brexit-related lead story. Balaskas’s commission was developed in intellectual and aesthetic dialogue with other exhibited artists influenced by the Punk movement: Mike Kelley, Martin Kippenberger and Paul McCarthy for their exploration of alienation; and Jimmie Durham, Claire Fontaine and the Guerrilla Girls for their questioning of structures of power. Through his work, Balaskas expands the political scope of such artistic practices into today’s post-truth culture. More specifically, the artist investigates the roots of post-factuality by highlighting the pervasiveness of an intangible media spectacle. By making this spectacle “tangible” through the installation’s objects, the artist provides a critique of “alternative facts”; thus, he creates a “visual reinterpretation” of theories by thinkers like Jean Baudrillard and Guy Debord, as well as more recent contributions by philosophers and political theorists such as Peter Sloterdijk, Daniel Dennett and Matthew D’Ancona. As the members of the audience are called to “reconnect” the missing news stories and infer meaning, Balaskas’s work proposes a conceptual framework that places the responsibility of the viewer at the epicentre of contemporary visual culture. Following MACBA, the work has been presented at exhibitions in Athens, London and Nottingham.

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